Everton and remembering an epic 4-4

As we are due to play Everton today at Goodison in an FA Cup replay, rather than preview/ramble on about the game which I predict us to win (did you think I’d say anything else?) I thought it would be a nice change to recall the last time we met in the same situation over seventeen ears ago.

FA Cup Fifth Round Replay – Wednesday 20th February 1991

Everton 4
Sharp 2, Cottee 2

Liverpool 4
Beardsley 2, Rush, Barnes

There have been some games that didn’t go our way but nonetheless go down in the club’s history. The FA Cup fifth round replay between Everton and Liverpool played at Goodison Park on was such a game not just because it was one of the greatest matches ever to grace the FA Cup but also because of what it sparked afterwards, the resignation of Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish.

The background to the tie had many parallels with our situation today. We had just played Everton in the league with new signing David Speedie netting twice. The following game was in the FA Cup at Anfield, that was drawn 0-0. So it like this season it was off to Goodison for our third game against Everton in as many weeks.

I remember not being able to get a ticket but travelled up on the afternoon of the game in hope. I was rewarded by a fan who ushered me down a back alleyway. I thought he was going to take my money may be mug me but I was willing to take the chance as I so desperately wanted to see the game. Thankfully he was a true gent and actually charged me face value for the ticket!

The Liverpool line up was significant for the inclusion of an off form and seemingly out of favour Peter Beardsley who surprisingly hadn’t started a game since before Christmas. However, with injuries to Ronnie Whelan and Steve McMahon in the previous two derby games Kenny was forced to ring the changes. Beardsley didn’t have to wait long before he tested Southall, cutting inside from the left wing to fire in from twenty yards or so. Southall couldn’t hold the shot but Rush, predatory as ever, couldn’t convert the rebound as the keeper did really well to recover and block the shot.

Next it was Everton’s turn with Eberall turning Sharp’s far post knock past the post. Then Nevin produced a low shot with forced Grobbelaar to dive low to his left hand post and save. Next Barnes hit one into the side netting. It was end to end stuff, a distinct contrast from the first game at Anfield. A goal had to come soon?

Staunton tidied up an Everton attack in his own half and set Rush down the left wing Ratcliffe went to challenge him but lost it. Rush bore down on Southall, a familiar scene over the years, and beat him with a controlled “dink”. However, Hinchcliffe managed to get back and clear it off the line. Sadly it only got as far as Rush who nodded it sideways to Beardlesy who fired home via a deflection of Southall. Amazingly, given the final score, that concluded the scoring for the first half.

Everton began the second half more positively and were rewarded. Hinchcliffe, making up for the disappointment of the first goal, lofted a long ball into our area to Sharp at the far post. He evaded Staunton’s weak challenge and planted a firm header towards goal. Although Grobbelaar got his hands to it, he couldn’t keep it out.

Chances continued to rain in. Nevin scooped one over the bar and Sharp and Rush fired wide. Everton were a better side after the break harrying us and cutting down space, particularly around the ever rotund, but always cool and classy, Jan Molby who had been pulling the strings in the first half. So, it must have disappointing to see us go 2-1 up. After, through sheer numbers, they had forced Burrows and Molby to retreat up the pitch with the ball it eventually broke to Beardlesy who simply skipped through the middle, found a gap and crashed an unstoppable shot past Southall into the top corner. Two goals for Bearsdley and point made to Kenny?

However, just as were celebrating Berado’s return to form and contemplating progress to the next round we let Everton back into the game with another howler. Newell beat Ablett to a long pun from the Everton half. The ball broke, Grobbelaar came but Nicol didn’t see him and passed it beyond thinking he was still on the line. Sharp took advantage of the confusion to slide in the equalizer.

By now anything was up for grabs as both sides seemed to throw caution to the wind. Molby collected the ball from a corner and caressed in one of his pin point passes. Rush rose above the Everton to steer his header past Southall for his twenty fourth goal against Everton in all competitions. Surely that was that, home and dry? But no as the game went into the last minute the ball broke across the Liverpool penalty area. A tired Ablett missed it and let in Cottee to equalise for the third time.

Extra time and tiredness was beginning to show as the game become more and more open Rush and Venison produced superb saves from Southall forcing him to dive low to his right and then his left. We continued to press we were rewarded by a hitherto quietish John Barnes who collected a short free kick on the left wing and looped a curling cross, cum shot, in off the post. Ahead for the fourth time in the game however as we know there was a final sting in the tail with Cottee getting on the end of Hinchcliffe’s pass when Hysen let Molby’s back pass roll on thinking Grobbelaar was coming.

It was a hell of a game. We dominated for long periods but Everton wouldn’t lie down. Some great finishing but, at the same time, shocking defending. Looking back at the time it was so frustrating to inch ahead and then be hauled back. I was drained after the game however, now with hindsight I was just glad to be there to witness such a cracking game which was sure to go into FA Cup history?

The day after the game Kenny Dalglish resigned. It was a hell of shock particularly since it was in the middle of a campaign. There is no way Kenny would have done that had he not really been feeling the pressure. I guess it might have been something to do with Hillsborough, he attended many of the victim’s funerals and handled everything superbly but it most of taken its toll? Perhaps it was the strain of playing for and managing a top club like Liverpool in such a short space of time? Managers say they relish the pressure but surely there must come a time when it does get too much? Whatever the case Kenny’s record stands up – three championships and two FA Cups. What would have been achieved under him in Europe had we not been banned?

Everton won the second replay 1-0 with a goal from Dave Watson but went out in the sixth round to West Ham by 2-1. Ronnie Moran and then Graeme Souness assumed control after Kenny. However, injuries and the lack of continuity took its toll and we finished runners up the league to Arsenal. As for Kenny after a rest he was back with Blackburn eventually steering them to the title in 1995 to join Herbert Chapman and Brian Clough as the only managers to lead two different clubs to league championships.

Everton: Southall, Atteveld (McCall), Hinchcliffe, Ratcliffe, Watson, Keown, Nevin (Cottee), McDoanld, Sharp, Newell, Ebbrell

Liverpool: Grobbelaar, Hysen, Burrows, Nicol, Molby, Ablett, Beardsley, Staunton, Rush, Barnes, Venison Aubs: Speedie, Houghton

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